Virtualization and its "green" side

There are two types of green weighing on the minds of business professionals these days: The green that denotes business practices that tread lightly on the environment, and the green that represents money – or lack thereof for capital improvements. The big question is, can you implement the former type of green without spending too much of the latter?

Apparently, you can. At least, so says a recent report written by Barb Goldworm, a virtualization analyst for Focus Consulting and co-author of the 2007 book, “Blade Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs.” In the white paper titled “How to Green Your Data Center from the Server Out,” Goldworm and her co-authors Armando Acosta of Dell and Ed Kurtzer of Intel set out with the premise that the greening of data centers is not only desirable – it’s inevitable.

“Energy costs are going up dramatically. In fact, energy costs are surpassing hardware costs,” according to the report.  An accompanying chart tells the story in graphic detail, showing clearly how energy remained relatively low throughout the 90s and well into the current decade. However, in 2008, energy prices suddenly shot up, quickly crossing over the stable line representing server costs. For the first time, “We are spending more money on power and cooling for the servers than we are for the servers themselves,” the authors state.

As an example, consider a 1,000 square foot data center, which can hold 30 10kW racks. The power required to operate that infrastructure is about 300kW, with another 300kW required for cooling. In Goldworm’s estimates, that translates to an electric bill of $240,000 annually for cooling alone. This explains why, in a survey at last year’s Interop conference , 74% of the IT professionals polled said their company’s major motivation for adopting energy-conserving “green IT” practices is cost reduction. 

To read more on virtualization, head on over to IBM’s Server Virtualization website.

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